The epidemic of women’s unpaid work is a serious problem and it’s one that should concern us as Christians. Whether by implication, necessity, or demand, women aren’t being credited or compensated for their work. They are often taken less seriously as professionals and expected to take sole responsibility for housework and other traditionally feminine kinds of work. Not all labor—such as household work—is the kind of work for which we give and receive a paycheck. But it remains that for much of history, patriarchy has ensured that all of women’s work—official and unofficial and paid and unpaid—is seen as less than, and that women’s labor can be taken for granted.
Whenever I hear the word “submission” I am immediately transported back to my childhood home. We were staunchly rooted in a conservative, Christian tradition, and my family prided itself on having a high view of Scripture. There were a number of beliefs affected by this high view of Scripture (which, for the record I still hold to!), but few made their way into the everyday vocabulary of my family more often than submission. We were instructed to see complementarian gender roles as one of the foundational building blocks of a godly family, and ensuring a healthy sense of submission was front and center when building that foundation.
When the news of my mom’s death spread throughout my congregation and the naval base in Port Hueneme, Calif., I began to learn about the kindred spirit that exists among women who have lost their mothers. These women cried with me and told me, “There is something deep that happens in our souls when a woman loses her mother.” All of these women talked of mothers who loved them and modeled that every woman can be all that God wants her to be.
Yesterday, Christian author, Beth Moore, wrote a vulnerable letter to her Christian brothers, describing what it has been like for her to be a woman ministering in the male-dominated world of evangelicalism.
There is no single calling for all women. This is a realization that cannot be taught or persuaded. A person must want to grow, and a Christian should want to learn new ideas because pursuing truth requires accepting that we can be wrong.
I grew up in a traditional, warm, and well-meaning suburban Baptist church in Western Canada. No one who looked like me ever brought a word, prayer, sermon, or exhortation from the chestnut pulpit that elevated speakers to near-heavenly status. Certainly not on Sunday mornings or at Sunday evening services. Not on Wednesday nights either, unless they were visiting missionaries from a “far-away land” and even then, they “shared” their experiences. They never preached.
Many Christians, certainly most egalitarians, are familiar with Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (NIV). But as well-known as this passage is, it’s still common to wonder what mutual submission actually looks like in practice. Here’s my take on it.
Working in an interdenominational ministry setting is a saving grace when I am frustrated by the church’s politics, favoritism, and doctrinal stubbornness. I absolutely love working in ministries where several churches unite, putting differences aside, to serve a community. It is such a beautiful picture of Christ’s vision for service and unity in the body.